Review 2009

Wednesday, 08/12/2009

Cyrcus

16.00 (PT) CYRCUS
According to their likeable frontman, the band had only expected around 50 people in the audience at such an early hour. How wrong they were! The SUMMER BREEZE mob was obviously hot and more than ready to go, and CYRCUS played to a nicely filled tent despite the allegedly unfavorable position as festival openers, being welcomed with open arms after their Pulp Fiction intro. And the boys from North Rhine-Westphalia were obviously intent on using the situation to their advantage, as they seemed to take in the good mood, showing themselves in top form. Especially guitarist Andy moved about quite a lot, delivering perfect shouts at the same time, while singer and eyecatcher Chubby handled the melodic vocals and stage raps in a professional manner. Although at times reminiscent of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, the boys were far from being a mere clone. During the middle section of “Something's Missing” the band interspersed an 80s metal flashback in the shape of WARLOCK's “All We Are”, and the audience did their fair share, complete with circle pit and wall of death. A more than solid gig!


Sheephead

16.45 (PT) SHEEPHEAD
While already pretty crowded during CYRCUS' set, SHEEPHEAD managed to draw even more people into the tent. The death metal steamroller from Pfaffenhofen took over a nicely warmed-up crowd, reduced the talk in between sogns to a minimum and put the pedal to the metal. Like a well-oiled machine and with loads of double kick sections, the band led by frontman Benni chugged through the six songs on their setlist. During the breaks in between songs the crowd vehemently demanded a wall of death and later even started chanting the band's name. SHEEPHEAD sounded a bit like an IN FLAMES from past (and heavier) times, partly due their considerable technical abilities, although never forgetting to mix things up a bit with well-dosed melodic and grooving mid-tempo sections. During “The Plague” the singer couldn't resist the temptation to seek direct contact to the fans in the front row and jumped down into the photo pit. A response from the audience came quickly in the shape of the first few crowdsurfers of the festival. No easy job for the jury then, as the second band was really tight, too!


Dreamshade

17.30 (PT) DREAMSHADE
DREAMSHADE from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland could even raise the numbers, although not really in front of the stage, but upon it instead, as there were six of them. However, there were far less people in the tent compared to the first few bands – maybe due to the long drive the band had behind them? Never mind, the boys didn't let the situation spoil their good mood, and the audience was really into it, with fists staying up in the air throughout the whole set! The sextet was highly motivated, banging their heads at all time, and the singer did his best with his stage raps in English with a nice accent to win over the crowd. Their keaboard-driven sound wasn't really everyone's cup of tea, but the band will surely find its way, as the band members – maybe with the exception of the drummer – all are still really young and at the very start of their careers. They certainly did give it their all, as evidenced by keyboard player Rawi sitting in front of their dressing room practicing for a long while before the show.


Cypecore

18.15 (PT) CYPECORE
The fourth band participating in the contest enjoyed a full tent again. A relatively long intro built up the atmosphere nicely, but the band inexplicably didn't start right after and the whole momentum was lost. Unimpressed with the massive crowd, the band ignited a musical fireworks of sorts. In the vein of traditional melodic death akin to DARK TRANQUILLITY and boasting a pronounced Gothenburg influence, the boys managed to facinate the audience from the very first song. However, things didn't stay in the realm of classic metal throughout the whole set, as the band interspersed their songs with seasonable bits of hardcore and potent breaks at the right moments. Self-confident with the knowledge they just produced an excellent album, the band from Sinsheim rocked like there was no tomorrow. Especially vocalist Attila reigned over the crowd with his charismatic voice, provoking the audience to chant the band monicker for the second time during this evening. With the motto “No fillers, just killers” the band raced through their set, making it clear they were ready to get signed. Strong performance by this young quintet.


Scond Relation

19.00 (PT) SECOND RELATION
Last but not least it was the turn of Austria's SECOND RELATION, who amazed the crowd from the very first note. Cause for this excitement were neither extravagant stage clothes nor excpetional visuals, but the young age of this up-and-coming band. With none of the band members even having reached majority age, the boys proved their early musical education had paid off. Quite oviously inspired by OPETH yet far from just replicating their sound, SECOND RELATION trod on new paths, captivating the audience with their mainly quiet, progressive music. A major factor in the band's enthralling appearance was singer and bassist Bastian's youthful charme, which fascinated everyone attending their gig. Add to this the almost frightening instrumental perfection displayed by each and every one of the five musicians. Even with experienced musicians and after years of collaboration it is seldom to witness such an outstanding feeling in the interpretation of their own material. It was highly impressive how this extremely young band effortlessly managed to tantalize a raging metal audience.

Due to a very strong selection of participants it was far from easy for the members of the jury to agree on a winner. The jury was composed, among others, of writers of Metal.de and Metal Hammer, an A&R representative from Metal Blade Records and a female audience member who had won her place in the jury at an earlier prize draw. After a pertinent time for deliberation all participating band s were asked on stage again, where, following the presentation of the jury, Second Relation were pronounced winners of the contest, deservedly gaining them the opening slot for Thursday morning at SUMMER BREEZE 2009.


One way mirror

20.00 (PT) ONE WAY MIRROR
After SECOND RELATION had won the Newcomer Contest, the actual festival program started at 8PM sharp, with ONE-WAY MIRROR stylistically tying in with the first bands of the day. Without hesitation, the agile Frenchmen captivated the nicely warmed-up audience from the get-go with their modern, SOILWORKish metal. The Party Tent was still pretty full and the band seemed to be no strangers to most of the audience, as the songs were greeted like old friends. No wonder: Two of the band members, Guillaume Bideau (MNEMIC) and Dirk Verbeuren (SOILWORK, for instance), have a previous history of their own. The flawless sound, which granted the band a powerful low end and roaring guitars, helped to build a great atmosphere in the tent. Anthemic choruses alternated with thrashy parts and driving grooves, laying the foundation for singer Guillaume's diverse vocals, which more then once sounded reminiscent of FAITH NO MORE's Mike Patton. A convincing gig that made everybody hungry for more and decidedly refuted the old adage thal all beginnings are difficult.


Razor of Occam

20.55 (PT) RAZOR OF OCCAM
The fog machine shrouds the Party Tent in a sweet-scented mist as RAZOR OF OCCAM get on stage to prove that it can also be done entirely differently. Gone is the candy-coated melody – beware the old school sledgehammer! Not surprising, taking into consideration that half of this band are members of DESTRÖYER 666, but there is a certain sense of anticipation. After a full ten years of band history the band has recently released their first full-length album on Metal Blade and are now standing on the Party Stage in the flesh, just about to fire rounds of their thrash-tinged old school death/black metal into the crowd. Most of the songs on offering are precisely off said album, “Homage To Martyrs”, and the quartet plays them in an unsurprisingly insolent fashion. Not a lot of movement on stage. No need for flashy complements like stage acting for these old stagers (no pun intended!). On the one hand, that wouldn't really fit the dust-dry character of the songs, on the other, the band just convinces by their music alone. Guitarist Ian's solos are food for the ears and eyes. The positive reactions greeting the band show that the audience is definitely up for some rumbling old school sound. Well done! Because the following VOMITORY will even up the ante when it comes to pure brutality.


Vomitory

22.00 (PT) VOMITORY
Neat Swedish death metal for the evening hours, what more do you want? VOMITORY know what is expected of them and, without hesitation, slap “The Carnage Rages On” and “Revelation Nausea” in the audience's faces. And the people really open up to the fantastic blasts on display. By now the tent is packed to the last corner, which seems a bit surprising at first for a band as extreme as VOMITORY. But the crowd rages, happily meeting every request for a circle pit and making the sweat run down the walls. VOMITORY have got the audience firmly in their grip from the first minute and don't let go with the following “Serpents” and the title track of their penultimate album, “Terrorize Brutalize Sodomize”. It's a true joy how the grooving monster riffs alternate with brutal blast attacks. And the audience agrees apparently, celebrating the band as some kind of small headliner. After what felt like about 20 minutes, but which was actually three quarters of an hour according to the watch,”Redemption” and “Under Clouds Of Blood” round out a gig where VOMITORY proved once more what we already knew: There's no need for melody in good music.


God Dethroned

23.05 (PT) GOD DETHRONED
There was a last minute change to the running order as CATARACT couldn't make it in time, that's why GOD DETHRONED had to get on earlier than planned. And so the Dutchmen led by Henri Sattler climbed the stage to fire up the Party Tent with their death/black metal anthems. As soon as they set foot on stage, the musicians were greeted with a big roar from the audience, and GOD DETHRONED made a furious start with “Under A Darkening Sky”, a true tornado of straight-ahead death metal. In the course of a very successful show it became clear that epic melodies, neckbreaking riffs, driving drums and guttural vocals are exactly what the hungry fans were craving. Numerous horns in the air, mosh pits and even a considerable circle pit didn't allow any other conclusion. GOD DETHRONED themselves seemed extremely focused, firing one slab of death metal after another into the audience, precise and passionate, until “Villa Vampira” sadly marked the end of the set for the “Tulip Slaughterers”.


Powerwolf

00.15 (PT) POWERWOLF
Although inside the tent it was obviously impossible to see if the moon was up on the night sky, the closer the show of the “Romanian” metallers drew, the more people started howling ferventy at the moon. Dressed in black robes, the boys started their set with “We Take It From The Living” after a very short delay. The initial problems with Attila Dorn's voice were soon forgotten as he confidently led his crew through the setlist while the audience partied in a more than relaxed atmosphere. After the first song, Dorn was seen manipulating an incense holder with the intention of exorcising the audience of the swine flu, among other evils. With this band it is not only hit after hit in the musical department, entertainment is also a definite priority. And its a feast for the eyes too, as a huge backdrop and four tall sidedrops looking like vitreaux in an atmospheric red light provided for something to look at besides the band members. The whole band, with the exception of the drummer (no surprise here!), were constantly in motion and especially organist Falk Maria Schlegel was always firing up the crowd. The nine songs on the setlist provided a balanced sample of their three albums and, thanks to the harmony leads in “In Blood We Trust”, even a slight breeze of IRON MAIDEN crossed the tent at some point. With a fairly short stage time of just 45 minutes there obviously wasn't enough time for all the hits, and many probably missed songs like “Mr. Sinister”, but what can you do. “Kiss Of The Cobra King” was the perfect set closer sung by Attila right in the pit by the first rows.


Cataract

01.20 (PT) CATARACT
Due to delays on their way to the festival, CATARACT had to switch positions with GOD DETHRONED. But it must have been easy to tell that there were no Dutch death metallers on stage, but Swiss death metallers with tons of hardcore attitude. The band were wearing their influences on their chests, so to speak, as vocalist Fedi had a massive Obituary logo on his shirt, while the bassist had a Death shirt on. In the audience, the atmosphere reached boiling point as soon as Fedi came on stage following the intro played by his band mates. The pit was seething nonstop, the security was busy as hell picking up loads of crowdsurfers and the band was really enthusiastic, agile and tight. There was almost no time for a breather, except maybe during the intro to “Killing Tool” in the middle of the set, which allowed the storm to calm for a minute – just to come back raging even stronger. The icing on the cake was the requested wall of death. Besides frontman Fedi, especially drummer Ricky Dürst left a positive impression. Although playing rather simple stuff on a not very huge kit, his performance was reminiscent of the much-lauded Swiss precision. Im-press-ive show!


Donnerstag, 13.08.2009

Second Relation

13.00 (PS) SECOND RELATION
Their accompanying parents were at least as excited as the band members themselves when it was finally time for SECOND RELATION to officially open SUMMER BREEZE 2009. Just in time for their set it stopped raining as well, so there was a constant flow of people towards the stage during their set. Quite a few people probably had a hard time synchronizing the grown-up sound coming from the speakers with the sight of the underage musicians on stage. Anyway, their sound was absolutely mesmerizing. In no way this was a band that would provoke spontaneous mass-jumping, but, being the first band on, they really fit the weather situation. Cloudy skies, wind, pretty much an autmnal atmosphere – the only thing missing was actually falling leaves. The protagonists on stage also seemed quite introverted, and especially singer/bassist Bastian was deeply immersed in the songs and his parts, which he managed to perform with sleepwalking perfection. Apart from the constant inflow of people, only after the first song (which was not exactly short) loud applause made it clear that the audience was really into it, making the boys on stage visibly confused. After the show, many could probably relate to the previous day's jury's decision.


Katra

13.30 (MS) KATRA
Next it was time for Finnish goth sounds on the Main Stage. After the demanding material of their predecessors, this went straight to the feet of the early risers in attendance. The red-haired beauty with the mic did a great job at motivating and animating the audience, and pretty soon there were hands in the air clapping along. The band had to struggle with some feedback at first, but after two songs everything was fine. Singer and namesake Katra was focused on winning over the masses, and so it seemed forgiveable that she didn't hit every note 100% in tune. What may have caused some irritation was the abundance of keyboard parts coupled with the absence of a keyboardist – the sounds were all programmed. It would be obvious to compare this band to NIGHTWISH, WITHIN TEMPTATION, etc.,but the Finns were much more direct and avoided any excursions into opera. What came as a surprise was their cover of a song known by the genreal public from LOONA or maybe even MECANO: “Hijo De La Luna”. But the Spanish hit actually gained a lot with KATRA's interpretation and was well received by the audience. Almost as an apology, the bassist asked the audience “are you ready for some serious headbanging?” before the next song – and the audience was more than ready! However, it seemed strange that in the meantime there were more people waiting for DEADLOCK in front of the Pain Stage than watching KATRA at the Main Stage.


Deadlock

14.10 (PS) DEADLOCK
After newcomers Second Relation, it was Deadlock's turn to take the Pain Stage. During Katra's set on the Main Stage numerous fans had already made their way over to watch Deadlock. After a brief techno intro the five gentlemen and one lady went straight for it. “Martyr To Science” and “Code Of Honor” were two absolute hits right at the beginning of the set. It was a varied soundmix of brutal metalcore and epic metal. The twin vocals of frontwoman Sabine and shouter Johannes give their songs a very special note. Sabine, with her crystal clear yet powerful voice, is actually one of the best female singers in modern metal. Towards the end, the band brought back some more techno/dance, which probably didn't go over too well with a few people in the audience. However, the show was a success altogether and gained excellent reactions. Deadlock impressively proved that they have grown to be a very powerful live act over the years.


Vader

14.55 (MS) VADER
It had been a long time since VADER, always welcome guests at SUMMER BREEZE, had last been seen around these parts. While the Poles had been almost overexposed a few years back, they have managed to turn the impending oversaturation into new hunger in their audience, and today they fed them with a massive old school show. After the intro, during which the entirely renewed line-up took to the stage, the band went straight for the throat with “Dark Age”. Nutcracker-tight and extremely well-rehearsed, VADER pointed into the right direction: the past. “Sothis” and “Black To The Blind” followed, making it clear that VADER still have an unmistakably distinct style. Frontman Pjotr's growls are unique, matched only perhaps by Jan-Chris de Koeijer's (GOREFEST), as he incited the crowd to start a few walls of death. The guitars were buzzing like a giant swarm of killer bees and drummer Paul was a true weapon; a machine gun of big caliber and double barrel, bringing back fond memories of late drummer Doc, who passed away a few years ago but left an indelible mark on VADER's sound with his playing. In the audience there was no time for sentimentalism though. The fluctuating orbit of the mosh pit sucked in more and more people, Polish flags were waving in the air, song titles were chanted and a lilac pillow was thrown from one side of the audience to the other. And some still say death metal wasn't made for cuddling!


Grand Magus

15.40 (PS) GRAND MAGUS
Although the audience surely deserved better weather, the ambience was perfect for Sweden's GRAND MAGUS. The sky covered in dark grey and a cool wind blowing over the fields. From the very first second the trio made it clear that groovy old school doom with earthy rock elements can work perfectly well on a festival and that it can also be accepted by a younger audience. Despite the fact that this day the band was not exactly very active on stage, from the beginning the audience could be seen nodding in approval right to the very last rows. GRAND MAGUS rocked the SUMMER BREEZE. Especially the rhythm section of drummer Frederik and bassist Fox produced a grandiose wall of sound. Singer JB was in a great mood – as always – and told nordic anecdotes as a way to announce the songs. The highlight of the set was the title track of their current album “Iron Will”, which was accompanied by loud chants from the audience. Visibly moved and always in the proximity of a beer can, JB was in absolute extasy and left an enthusiastic crowd behind, one that no one would have expected to be this large. A gig full of character by the Swedes, who probably won over quite a few new fans.


Jack Slater

16.00 (PT) JACK SLATER
JACK SLATER, who named themselves after the main character in the film “Last Action Hero”, have been a household name in the German underground for 13 years and possess a reputation of being an outstanding live band. And the numerous fans in the Party Tent were able to see it for themselves this afternoon. With playful ease and visible enthusiasm the band fired their technical brutal death metal with US grindcore influences from the stage. Their crunchy, powerful and aggressive songs, which alternated between groove and high speed, oozed with blood and rawness as the lyrics in German language deal mostly with splatter and horror. Not only the band's enthusiasm, but also the funny stage raps of their singer Horn made for great entertainment, as he wondered at the large number of “ugly people” in the tent. Fortunately, nobody followed his request to storm the stage, as there weren't many bouncers about. It was nice to be able to hear all the little technical details such as the fantastically original guitar leads. The merciless “Metzgore” marked the end of an energetic gig.


Unheilig

16.30 (MS) UNHEILIG
Although – or maybe because – the style of this band is quite at the fringes of what is usually seen at SUMMER BREEZE, their fans started crowding up in front of the Main Stage – and up to way past the mixing – desk long before the show. When it was finally time for band and fans to start, there were no holds barred on either side. The band began playing the first song on their own at first, and then, when singer Der Graf joined them, there was extra loud applause. The guy is the linchpin of the band anyway. Smartly dressed in black trousers and tie and white shirt – but with no hair – his charisma captivated the audience. He struck a few theatrical poses, walked the edge of the stage back and forth like a tiger and made an extremely cool impression. (Later at the signing session he reaffirmed this impression as he had absolutely no reservations, granting absolutely everybody their signature, photo or handshake). Pretty early in the set the band pulled the first ballad from the hat, but even then the vibe didn't drop, it was rather a further higlight. The band had also put some thought into the visual side of things, adorning their almost pop-sounding mix of gothic and “Neue Deutsche Härte” with a triptych-style backdrop and three giant candleholders. The only minor complaint would be that the band looked quite static behind Der Graf.


Sylosis

17.00 (PT) SYLOSIS
There has been a lot of talk lately about a huge resurgence of thrash metal. This might be a bit of an overstatement, although there's more and more bands cultivating this genre nowadays. The UK's SYLOSIS are one of these bands, who released their debut album “Conclusion Of An Age” late last year. Old school meets new school. With a mix of Bay Area thrash and modern influences from Northern Europe – a touch of melodic death metal – and a bit of metalcore, the band quickly had the tent in their grip. No wonder, with a sound somewhere in between TESTAMENT, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, IN FLAMES, SOILWORK and SLAYER. Especially the epic choruses sung with clear vocals and the deep growls of their talented singer Jamie, combined with their brutal grooves, were greeted by a multitude of fists in the air as well as lots of action in the front rows. The frontman seemed to be bursting with energy, but the effort was surely worth it! And he didn't really have to ask long for a wall of death.


Equilibrium

17.25 (PS) EQUILIBRIUM
After one false start with the intro, at 17.25 the actual, dramatic introduction began. It's hard to say if it was the Bavarians' five-year absence from SUMMER BREEZE or the audience's fondness for rough pagan metal, but it was an immediate win for EQUILIBRIUM. Surprised with the euphoric reactions, singer Helge Stang kept thanking the audience in between songs as if he couldn't believe what was happening. But, besides the singer, the rest of the band didn't really seem to get motivated by the insane crowd as they concentrated almost stoically on playing their instruments. However, there was a lot of work for the security in the pit, there were various crowd surfers over the heads and, behind the scenes, the first victims actually had to receive first aid! As a bit of a joke, the band did a rather disrespectful cover of the Michael Jackson hit Billie Jean, with the singer armed with a hat trying unsuccessfully to imitate the famous poses. It all ended quite abruptly with the beginning of the next song though.


Psycroptic

18.00 (PT) PSYCROPTIC
PSYCROPTIC must have been the band with the longest way to get to the festival. The band hails from Australia, Tasmania to be more exact. Pretty much the other side of the world. But their reputation preceded them, as many willing moshers had made their way to the Party Tent. Technical yet straight-ahead death metal ranging from progressive to grindcore. Shouter Jason was definitely the eye-catcher of the show with his shaved skull and a single thin but very long braid which made for a pretty cool mosh effect. The sound was ultra brutal and contained high-speed blast orgies as well as razor sharp grooves. In the course of the set the tent kept filling up more and more, and the Aussies left the stage with a big smile of satisfaction on their faces.


J.B.O.

18.15 (MS) J.B.O.
It wasn't the first time at Summer Breeze for German jokers J.B.O., and once more they provided an hour of good fun. A huge crowd had gathered in front of the Main Stage when the pink bards started furiously with “Im Verkehr”. Pink Marshall cabinets on stage and fans dressed as pink rabbits, sheep, angels or anything else they could think of. If you have always wanted to see quite a human-looking rabbit bang his ears, you need to go to a J.B.O. show. The whole gig was actually pretty entertaining, not only because of the funny songs, but because of the jokes that especially Vito and Hannes kept cracking in between songs. The world – at least the Franconian part of it – was at J.B.O.'s feet. The crowd sang each and every song, the interaction between band and audience was almost perfect, and countless crowd surfers gave the security a lot of work. By the way, the bouncers were wearing pink shirts as well. The Pink Army is and will always be synonymous with fun and party. True “Defenders of Nonsense”! And there was even a brand new song titled “Geh mer halt zu Slayer”.


Beneath the Massacre

19.00 (PT) BENEATH THE MASSACRE
After Aussies PSYCROPTIC, another band from a former British colony got up on stage. Canada's BENEATH THE MASSACRE showed the crowd in the Party Tent who's boss when it comes to extreme metal. With breathtaking speed and precision the band fired their songs into the willing crowd. Intricate guitar riffs met massive drum blasts, causing jaws to drop everywhere. Yet the band deliberately slowed down every once in a while to challenge the audience with huge breakdowns. Beefy shouter Elliot is the main point of attraction in the band, and his deep growls were ear-piercing. The setlist was comprised of both new songs and older material. Lovers of the more extreme styles of metal definitely got their money's worth at this show.


Walls of Jericho

19.20 (PS) WALLS OF JERICHO
WALLS OF JERICHO's show was certainly one of the highlights on the Pain Stage. This year marked the Chicago band's long overdue debut at SUMMER BREEZE. Accordingly, loads of fans had gathered in front of the stage, and after a short intro the band led by frontwoman Candace stormed the stage. Probably due to the cold wind the band members had chosen their warmer stage outfits, but they took them off after only one song. No surprise they warmed up quickly, as they were really enthusiastic and agile on stage. It didn't take long for the audience to develop the same energy level, as Candace repeatedly called for circle pits. There were even three simultaneous pits at times. The wall of death was obviously another popular pit game. The gig consisted of a solid “best of” set from the last three albums, and was naturally ended with the band's singalong-hit “Revival Never Goes Out Of Style”. At that time the crowd in front of the stage was going mental. A fantastic show which was enjoyed equally by band and fans. Bassist Aaron Ruby even jumped into the crowd after the show was over. The only downer for all diehards was the fact that the band actually would have had time to play for five more minutes.


Hackneyed

20.00 (PT) HACKNEYED
The following show was a true revelation for all die-hard death metal fans. The young Swabians destroyed the Party Tent from the get-go. While the previous year they had the bonus of their very short ages, this evening HACKNEYED dispelled all doubts about their quality. This is an adult band playing death metal with the highest technical standard. Especially vocalist Phil has developed a charisma which is almost unbelievable for his age – early practice makes the master indeed! With the cleverly chosen opener “Axe Splatter” the vocalist, a mix of experience and youthful charme, had the audience firmly in his grip. The rest of the band also left the intial nerves behind quickly, blasting from one climax to the next. Only recently being promoted as hopeful newcomers, this evening HACKNEYED proved that they have become serious contenders in the death metal arena within the shortest of times. The audience honored every song with enthusiastic applause, forming a massive mosh pit in the middle of the packed tent again and again. Whoever had any doubts about this band was converted by the wave of sheer musical brutality. From new hopefuls to figureheads of German death metal in such a short time – that deserves some respect!


Kreator

20.15 (MS) KREATOR
Prime time for German thrash veterans KREATOR, and everybody was there. Everybody? At least that's what it looked like, as a huge crowd had gathered in front of the Main Stage to watch cult frontman Mille and his not-so-young cohorts. No wonder, as KREATOR are THE German thrash institution, which not only has influenced whole legions of bands all around the world, but has also recently released a truly majestic album with “Hordes Of Chaos”. But the fans obviously wanted to hear the classics, and KREATOR wouldn't be KREATOR if they didn't know that. Accordingly, the band played tons of old hits. During the intro, “Choir Of The Damned”, huge fog machines spread their red emissions over the crowd, creating the perfect visual setting for opener “Hordes Of Chaos (A Necrologue For The Elite)”. Front warrior Mille was, as always, the central figure of the show, inciting bigger and bigger mosh pits from the stage. Not that it would have been necessary, as the band pulled all the stops anyway. Be it the perfect interplay, the great stage acting or the merciless setlist, the fans couldn't have wished for a better show. New and old hits followed each other seamlessly, and KREATOR proved once more that they are far from finished, as they know better than anyone how to play aggressive music and captivate a massive audience in the process. No loss of bite and power from Germany's main thrash band. Many looked quite surprised when the band left the stage after only eight songs, but obviously the loud chants for an encore followed immediately and KREATOR returned for a few more songs, then leaving with a simple “Tschüss”. You obviously can't turn your back on the SUMMER BREEZE audience just like that, and so “Warcurse” kicked off the second encore. Before playing “Flag Of Hate” Mille walked the stage waving a huge KREATOR flag and made the audience chant the chorus repeatedly, making the words resound all over Dinkelsbühl. The cult song “Tormentor” then marked the end of an amazing show. Well done!


The red chord

21.00 (PT) THE RED CHORD
HACKNEYED's death metal salvo wasn't an easy act to follow for Massachusetts' THE RED CHORD with their mix of grindocre, death metal and hardcore. Still groggy from the grooves of the preceding band, it took the audience a few minutes to adjust to this musical frenzy. Yet finally there were no holds barred once vocalist Guy Kozowyk had taken over, whipping up the tent to extremes. Neckbreaking time changes and reckless blast beats alternated regularly, manifesting the outstanding status of this exceptional live band. The boys skillfully mixed new and old songs in their set, and towards the end the tent was a boiling pit. Even the bouncers got extremely busy, fishing out a low-flying metalhead from the audience almost every second. THE RED CHORD proved once again that they have firmly established themselves as a fabulous live band.


Backyard Babies

21.35 (PS) BACKYARD BABIES
Rock'n'Roll, baby! The Swedish quartet's appearance meant it was time for dirty, snotty rock'n'roll. The band started their set in a visibly relaxed manner, yet with loads of ants in their pants. What followed was a display of all existing rock clichés (meant in a positive way). Especially guitarist Dregen was on fire, delivering a fireworks of cool rock'n'roll moves, including the typical Angus Young walk, playing on his knees, and the unavoidable posing with a cig in his mouth. The band played an energetic set with songs from their entire history, albeit with an emphasis on new material. Despite their excellent place on the bill there were relatively few people in front of the stage, but those who were there seemed to be having a great tim, giving the band copious amounts of applause. After eleven songs the band left the stage to return later for one encore. However, vocalist Nicke Borg came back on his own at first for a solo rendition of the song “Saved By The Bell” - definitely the climax of the whole show. “Look At You” and “People Like Us” brought the gig to a close. The BACKYARD BABIES were one of the more exotic bands on the bill at SUMMER BREEZE, yet they convinced with an excellent show, provided some variety and probably walked away with a few new fans!


Anaal Nathrakh

22.05 (PT) ANAAL NATHRAKH
ANAAL NATHRAKH celebrated their German stage premiere at SUMMER BREEZE, and their music was something rarely heard before: the Brits unite clanking black metal riffs with rabid death metal vocals and flawless grind speed to a mix that threatens to leave you deaf, dumb and blind. Their songs, with titles such as “ I Am The Wrath Of Gods And The Desolation Of The Earth” and “Der Hölle Rache Kocht In Meinem Herzen”, were almost all of the speed-of-sound variety, while the guitars spread black metal disharmonies and vocalist Dave screamed, grunted and growled at the top of his vocal cords. What made the whole mix really sick was them interspersing anthemic choruses and melodic parts in the middle of the wildest blasts, with Dave letting loose his clean singing voice. ANAAL NATHRAKH walk the fine line between genius and insanity in a way that makes them absolutely outstanding and sensational. Even though there might be something for everyone among the ingredients of their sound, the whole is not necessarily everyon's cup of tea. Impressive!


Cantus Buranus

22.40 (MS) CANTUS BURANUS
While medieval sounds are always welcome at SUMMER BREEZE and CORVUS CORAX, the protagonists of the following CANTUS BURANUS show, are no strangers to the festival either, this production shattered everything that had been seen here before. Star director Gert Hof, who has already staged shows for RAMMSTEIN, was apparently given absolute creative (and financial) freedom, because the sheer quantities of crew members, instruments, props and effects was more than impressive. To make it clear from the start, it wasn't just the size, it was also the quality of the event that was impressive. The approximately 30-piece Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague, the equally sized Passionata Choir and Ingeborg Schöpf, soprano at the Dresden State Operetta, perfectly rounded out the CORVUS CORAX show. Be it in blood-red cardinal robes or in mysterious monks' cowls (both band and choir changed their wardrobe repeatedly during the show!), the show was a true happening and a visual fireworks display. Speaking of which: in addition to the perfect lighting, there were obviously a few pyro effects. And the music was obviously spectacular as well, because such a huge orchestra, complete with brass and woodwinds, timpani, harp, gong and a whole armada of strings, provided an impressive sound spectrum, complemented by a massive arsenal of medieval instruments of percussion and wind. The sheer grandiosity of it all gave you the goosebumps. The musical adaptation of the Carmina Burana lyrics as a mix of classical, soundtrack and medieval music along the familiar sounds of the CORVUS CORAX band were just made for headlining a festival like this.


Misery Index

23.05 (PT) MISERY INDEX
“We Never Come In Peace” was the title of their intro and a statement of intent at once, when MISERY INDEX came on the Party Stage at a pretty late hour. The Maryland four-piece could easily match the high level of brutality established earlier by ANAAL NATHRAKH, incorporating their political convictions into their show too – the band is know to be committed to their cause. Their sound was a lot more direct than that of their predecessors, but the punch it developed really got the audience moving. In just under 45 minutes MISERY INDEX ground their way through a representative sample of their discography, leaving the audience no time to breathe. There was quite a bit of action in the tent thanks to a few circle pits, until the band ended their set with the cool “Conquistadores”.


Katatonia

00.00 (PS) KATATONIA
Many of the fans in attendance probably remembered the band's last appearance, either because they were there in person in 2006, or because they had seen/heard the “Live Consternation” CD/DVD. Exactly at midnight the intro started and the band launched into a rather sloppy version of “Consternation”. Still during the following “Soil's Song” the band seemed quite unfocused, only picking themselves up for “Teargas”, from their latest album “Last Fair Deal Gone Down”. While at SUMMER BREEZE 2006 the band didn't play one song from said album, now they seemed to try and make up for it, as “Future Of Speech” and “Tonight' Music” followed. Despite a purposely balanced setlist, a fairly committed band and a rather docile audience, this time for some reason the atmosphere wasn't right. “Ghost Of The Sum” sounded convincing, but then the following “My Twin” didn't manage to keep the energy level. The last song was supposed to be the acclaimed “Evidence”, at least according to the setlist, but there was a surprising bonus in the shape of “Murder”, from 1996's “Brace Murder Day”, with growls and all! A great band in a not-so-great show. Maybe it really had to do with the fact that the band had to interrupt their ongoing studio sessions to be able to play this gig...


Hate Eternal

00.10 (PT) HATE ETERNAL
It is always a pleasure to see Erik Rutan and his cohorts live, as HATE ETERNAL are among the most technically proficient bands around. Especially Erik is difficult not to watch – and not just due to his appearance – when his fingers race across the fretboard. HATE ETERNAL left no eye dry and no jaw un-dropped. However, with all technical ability the band was not able to disguise the fact that a second guitarist would do them good. Especially during the solos the sound tended to seem a bit limited. But that would be the only small point of criticism, because otherwise HATE ETERNAL were absolutely convincing. Even though their songs are more technical and therefore lack a bit of party-appeal compared to MISERY INDEX's, the audience seemed impressed by the material on offer and knew how to savor it. But all in all – with the exception of the technical perfection – there have been better HATE ETERNAL shows.


Suffocation

01.15 (PT) SUFFOCATION
Lovers of the truly extreme will hardly have left the tent during this day; if anything, only to evacuate and refill, because what was on display from 4PM on was really a non-stop, high-quality blastfest. SUFFOCATION, probably the most reknowned band to play the tent today, got on stage to impressively underline the reason for their near-legendary reputation. They are considered one of the first bands to mix hardcore with brutal death metal, a combination that is also represented visually by vocalist Frank Mullen. The brawny frontman with the shaved skull walked the stage in his big jeans, creating the perfect symbiosis of hardcore and death metal with his political stage raps and his aggressive shouts and growls. A further factor within the band that helps generate that legendary status is the inhumanly fast and precise drumming of Mike Smith. Bassist Derek Boyer drew the crowd's attention not only through his accurate playing, but also because of his strange headbanging posture. With bent knees, as if sitting in an invisible chair, he let his hair rotate almost sweeping the floor with it. Thanks to the impeccable performance the audience went wild and there was a circle pit going practically at all times. Hats off!


Carnifex

02.20 (PT) CARNIFEX
Late at night deathcore shooting stars CARNIFEX took the stage, with the tent still nicely full. The band had also stayed awake and really went for it. The scrawny and excessively tattooed shouter Scott Lewis showed everyone how deep and brutal his growls are. Meanwhile, the band put the audience under a continuous fire of ultra-brutal blast beats and breakdowns. Surprisingly, the band didn't base their set only on songs from their hit album “The Diseased And The Poisoned”, but also played tracks from their debut “Dead In My Arms”, which is not quite as well-known around these parts. Technically there were absolutely no weak points in their extreme sound. The crowd cheered the band on, and during the hit “Lie To my Face” there were even singalongs to be heard. It seems like CARNIFEX's busy touring schedule is paying off.


The Faceless

03.20 (PT) THE FACELESS
Last band on were newcomers THE FACELESS, whose debut album “Planetary Duality” has made a massive impact on the scene. Accordingly, there were still numerous fans about who had waited long not to miss this musical tidbit. The boys are all just in their early 20s, but they have really mastered their instruments. Their style is a true exception in their genre. There's hardly another band to mix brutal tech-death metal with progressive elements, catchy melodies and skullsplitting riffs with such virtuosity. They race across their fretboards and drum skins on an extremely high technical level. The bloodcurdling vocals don't leave anything to be desired in terms of charisma, and the clean vocals provide some variety. The songs, which were partly accompanied by atmospheric samples, are extremely varied yet never too intricate, always staying within the realm of the comprehensible. Besides the songs off “Planetary Duality” the band played two tracks from their first album. Impressively, the band managed to recreate the intensity of their album one to one and even to increase it. Shouter Derek Rydquist made a very nice impression and the audience was at his feet. A real treat for those who stayed up late. THE FACELESS' show can easily be considered one of the musical climaxes of the whole festival.


Friday, 2009/08/14

Unsun

11.00 (MS) UNSUN
Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day in Dinkelsbühl. The sun fights its way through the clouds, warming the backs of the fans waiting at the Main Stage. Meanwhile, Poland's UNSUN enter the stage to sweeten the attendees' “hair of the dog” beer with some gothic pop. No worries, the music on offer is easily digestible and surely won't make you gain weight. At least judging by frontwoman Aya, who can easily rival someone like Sharon den Adel (WITHIN TEMPTATION) in the vocal department despite still wearing children-size clothes. The band obviously didn't want to overtax the audience at such an early hour, looking quite contained in terms of stage acting and communication. At least guitarist Mauser used to be a lot more agile back in his VADER days, but then again the material on offer isn't really too complex. UNSUN may be good for a musical morning pint, but they're still missing a bit of nutritional value to qualify for a main meal.


The new black

11.35 (PS) THE NEW BLACK
THE NEW BLACK, a relatively new band, inaugurated the Pain Stage to the sounds of the “Fall Guy”intro.The band had received lots of – admittedly justified – advance praise for their debut album released early in the year. Apparently quite a few people in the audience were ready to rock despite the early hour. THE NEW BLACK celebrated their American-influences rock somewhere in between BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY and NICKELBACK and were clearly having fun in the process.One could also make out some decent PANTERA influences due to the raw approach and massive riffs. The boys from northern Germany sounded a little rough and unpolished, but always catchy and seriously heavy, proving their live qualities. By the way, lead guitarist Christof Leim knows all the Angus Young poses by heart, which makes him a real eye-catcher. The singer's harmonica part was also really cool!


The Cumshots

12.10 (MS) THE CUMSHOTS
After THE NEW BLACK it was time for some heavier stuff, although one couldn't have known by the Elvis Presley intro. THE CUMSHOTS play an extremely cool and straightforward mix of rock with a big chunk of metal, the perfect soundtrack to a party with lots of beer, whiskey, cigarettes and lightly-clothed young women, even though the latter were nowhere to be seen. Visually the Norwegians were a real eye-opener, looking more like an authentic American rock band, and the attitude didn't end there, judging by the frequent use of ther F-word. What about the music? A grandiose, dirty and brutal mix of MOTÖRHEAD, THE HELLACOPTERS, SLAYER, AC/DC, ENTOMBED and ELVIS. Particularly the genuine performance with regards to visuals, attitude and music combined with the killer grooves caused immediate movement in the front rows. In any case, THE CUMSHOTS earned their candidacy for having the biggest balls of the whole festival, and not only because singer Max Cargo waved his in front of the photographers' lenses before carrying on singing while walking through the crowd, visibly enjoying the close contact to the audience.


Battleore

12.45 (PS) BATTLEORE
Total contrast: After some dirty and even dirtier rock, now it was time for some entirely different sounds and subject matter. Time for Middle Earth, the world of Tolkien and the symphonic gothic metal of BATTLELORE. Armed with costumes, warpaint and weapons, the “Lord Of The Rings” fans came on stage to take the audience on a trip to Tolkien's, and their own, exciting world of fantasy. The Finns delivered epic, melodic and catchy anthems, providing the musical soundtrack to a big battle against the dark lord Sauron. In a live situation their songs sounded slightly less ethereal, but a lot more aggressive, thanks to the heavy guitar riffs on offer. BATTLELORE, with a rather theatrical stage presence, played really tight, their numerous fans quickly developed an intense urge to move, and the half-hour set unfortunately went by far too quickly.


13.20 (MS) CALLEJON
After an intro the band, and, shortly after, their singer Basti, stormed the stage in a highly motivated manner. Surprisingly, no backdrop had been put up, a pity considering the singer is also a talented visual artist. But whatever, at the end of the day it was the music that mattered. After the drummer had allegedly broken his wrist at With Full Force he must have made a miraculous recovery, because he played as if nothing had ever happened. The young audience got behind the band as one from the very start and celebrated their heroes – even chanting the song announcements – providing for extra motivation in the band and loads of action in the pit. Obviously people were again seen happily dancing in circles and building walls of death. Besides his excellent singing, Basti was also in charge of whipping up the audience and doing his funny stage raps (“The next song is about small lusty dwarves who live under the earth!” - the song in question was “Zombiefied”). Set closer “Porn From Spain” became a true crowdsurfing orgy, during which as many as 10 bodies were held up at the same time. The bouncers had certainly not expected something like that at this time of the day, when all of a sudden things got extremely busy.

Nim Vind

14.05 (PS) NIM VIND
It was pretty clear in advance that the Canadians would have a hard time in front of a mainly metal audience with their pop-punk rock'n'roll. However, they briskly launched into their set – under a brand new backdrop – and played their hit “Killing Saturday Night” second, which gained them some timid applause. As better reactions failed to appear during the course of the set, at some point singer/guitarist uttered the – rather justified – question if people were even alive: “How are you doing out there? You're dead, or what?” When, on top of that, the band started playing more and more old material, it caused the crowd to become even more uninterested. Unfortunately the trio's live mix was not very well balanced either, making the harmony vocals barely audible and the guitar quite muddy. At least “21st Century Teenage” from the last album was a fairly reconciliatory ending to the show.


The Other

14.50 (MS) THE OTHER
Well done Boys! After playing the festival three years ago, when they were still rather unknown, the four horror punks had another shot on this bright afternoon. While their first appearance was only witnessed by relatively few people, this time there was a noticeably larger crowd in attendance. Proof of their growing fan community was also the fact that almost every one of the MISFITS lookalikes' choruses was loudly responded by the crowd. No wonder that, when frontman Rod Usher proposed celebrating the first pit of the day, the audience happily obliged. Inspired by the flawless performance, more and more people joined the headbanging crowd. THE OTHER were certainly a small surprise, more than justifying their slot on the Main Stage and making the best out of it. Let's wait and see, but in this shape and form the band will certainly be a welcome – and colorful – guest on any festival bill.


Sacred Steel

15.00 (PT) SACRED STEEL
Just by reading the song titles on their setlist, anyone unfamiliar with the leather and bullet belt gang from Southern Germany will have known what to expect of the band, because song titles such as “Heavy Metal To The End”, “Wargods Of Metal” and “Blood On My Steel” don't leave much room for speculation; it was true metal time! Also fitting were the sidedrops showing axes and swords. And, although the “true” metal sound isn't exactly the focus of the SUMMER BREEZE festival, the tent was already well attended and the atmosphere really good. “We didn't expect anything but received a lot!” was singer Gerrit P. Mutz's happy conclusion later on. The first 5 to 10 rows were even busy headbanging all the way through the set. The vocals were mostly high – even painfully high at times – as this style requires, but “Slaughter Prophecy” provided some refreshing variety with its additional growls.


Psychopunch

15.40 (PS) PSYCHOPUNCH
After NIM VIND and THE OTHER, PSYCHOPUNCH completed the horror punk / sleaze rock trio on the Pain Stage. Having played the festival a few times in the past, the Swedes were no strangers to the BREEZE and felt visibly at home. The crowd greeted the band the way it should be, giving new members Lindell and Jocke – who recently replaced Peppe and Mumbles on bass and drums – a sweaty and warm welcome. “Hush Now Baby”, from the penultimate album “Moonlight City”, opened the show, the focus of which was clearly the recently released “Death By Misadventure” album. But even with the lesser known songs the band scored points with the audience, creating a great party atmosphere. However, the music is and always will be only a part of a PSYCHOPUNCH show. Their funny stage raps, during which the three band members at the front constantly interrupt each other, not only show how close the band is to their fans, it also makes clear that it's all just supposed to be fun. Right on!


Skyforger

16.00 (PT) SKYFORGER
Latvia's SKYFORGER have devoted their music to their country's folklore. Their songs tell tales of long forgotten gods, heroic battles and old sagas. Musically, the folk influence is also evident, as they mix flutes and bagpipes into their stomping pagan metal. Visually, however, the band seemed a little irresolute, with the whole band, except the flutist, wearing normal clothes, namely jeans and t-shirts. Said flutist had dressed in old fashion, according with the band theme – maybe the luggage with the rest of the stage clothes went missing? At least the bearded men agreed on their will to make a strong impression on the audience, and really went for it. At times one of the guitarists was even seen playing on his knees. The crowd in the absolutely packed tent thanked the band with frenetic reactions. In any case, the long journey was certainly worth the band's while!


The HauntedHaunted

16.30 (MS) THE HAUNTED
This was already THE HAUNTED's second appearance at SUMMER BREEZE, and the first thing people noticed was frontman Peter Dolving's visual transformation, as he was now sporting a big bushy beard. But that quickly became irrelevant when the band furiously launched into “Little Cage” from their latest album “Versus”. From the get-go the band spread an intensity, power and aggression rarely seen among their peers. The fact that Dolving didn't announce any of the first few songs didn't matter either, as he relied entirely on his charisma to get the audience going, which he easily accomplished. The crowd reactions kept growing from song to song until the point of euphoria. During the further course of the set, Dolving actually showed his humorous side, as he communicated with tongue-in-cheek stage raps (“I feel stupid today!”), uttered his honest opinion about metalcore and lectured about money and music. During the songs it was an entirely different picture, as he mutated into a berserker and one had to fear a vein would burst in is head while he screamed his lungs out. While other bands tried their best to get a wall of death going from the stage, Dolving didn't waste much time and got into the audience through the security pit, made his way to the wave breaker, watched his band from afar and started to chase people to both sides. And the result was amazing, as THE HAUNTED probably had the biggest wall of death of the whole day! The band members were clearly having a great time and could be seen grimacing at each other. This show will probably be talked about for a long time, and the band was certainly among the winners of this year's festival. It really wouldn't have been necessary to point a gun at people's faces – as depicted on the backdrop – to get these reactions.


Black Messiah

17.00 (PT) BLACK MESSIAH
The Ruhr Vikings BLACK MESSIAH were the third band to do the honors on the tent stage. It was quite clear that the audience had come to get its first warm-up before the mighty AMON AMARTH, and accordingly the tent was quite full. The BLACK MESSIAH boys embraced this unique opportunity and more than lived up to the crowd's expectations, delivering their pathos as if they wanted to apply for a potential position as tour support for the Swedish headliners. Driven by the audience's collective headbanging, BLACK MESSIAH delivered a unique performance. Each of the Vikings' songs made a huge impact in the crowd, and the temperature started to rise to almost critical levels. Even metalheads who were only there by chance were soon captured by BLACK MESSIAH's spell. Despite the early hour, the guys set a new attendance record for the tent, which would probably be hard to break. Great gig with no unnecessary fuss, but with loads of enthusiasm.


Entombed

17.25 (PS) ENTOMBED
The points for coolest intro of the day went to ENTOMBED, with THE NEW BLACK coming a close second. In it, a preacher could be heard talking about God and reaching the conclusion that Satan exists, too, making this strikingly clear – a notion that fitted the Swedish legend's show like a glove. The band launched right into “Serpent Saints”, the title track of their current album, followed by a solid best-of set spanning the entire band history. New songs alternated with material from “Wolverine Blues”, “To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth” and “Morning Star”, with the only downer being the glaring absence of “Left Hand Path”. The show was a no-frills display of dirty death'n'roll in its purest dorm, frontman L.G. Petrov's stage raps in German (“Alles gut meine Damen und Headbanger? Keine Lahmen hier, das ist fein!”) providing some extra entertainment. His slightly retarded stage presence was somehow reminiscent of Ozzy, but – unlike the latter – his vocal performance was top-notch as he growled into the mic. Guitarist Alex Hellid's cool riffs were also beyond any reasonable criticism. The hired gun replacing the original bassist, who was becoming a father, had had to learn the set in one day, but this didn't dampen the band's tight playing in any way. Cool show.


Obscura

18.00 (PT) OBSCURA
Bavaria's OBSCURA delivered a stark contrast, at least musically, to the preceding party band BLACK MESSIAH. Time for some highly technical death metal. It was also interesting to see how quickly almost the whole audience changed, which made it easier for OBSCURA to address their complex compositions. Inspired by genre greats such as CYNIC and ATHEIST, the band played so tight any aspiring musician in the audience must have been slackjawed. And the reactions in the crowd actually covered a wide range, from appreciative astonishment to extatic headbanging. With their energetic performance OBSCURA cemented their position as leaders of the German tech-death metal fraction, which was also proved by the frenetic reactions from the audience – more of this, please!


Schandmaul

18.15 (MS) SCHANDMAUL
A band like SCHANDMAUL could easily play on any children's birthday party, which isn't meant as criticism, but to underline their catchy sound and their impossibly cool character. Even before the band hit the stage there were nothing but happy faces in the audience, and when the time had finally come, the following hour turned into one joyful celebration. Some stairs had been placed on each side of the stage, on which the two ladies in the band stood during the opener “Vor Der Schlacht”, left and right of the drums there were slightly smaller risers for the guitarist and the bassist, and above it all there was a huge logo backdrop spanning the entire stage – not to mention the fancy clothes, especially the ladies in their precious, figure-hugging brocade dresses. Looks like the band did their homework in terms of visuals. To announce the passionately delivered songs, frontman Thomas Lindner often told entertaining little stories (for example, introducing the song “Missgeschick”), which helped keep the atmosphere lively at all times. It could be easily seen how much fun the band were having as they smiled and joked around, and you could tell they – and especially their fans – enjoyed one of the last chances of a live show before going into hibernation (for about a year and a half!) to focus on the creation of new material. The enthusiastically received encores “Frei” and “Dein Anblick” rounded up one of the highlights of this Friday.


Koldbrann

19.00 (PT) KOLDBRANN
The Norwegians had already played in Dinkelsbühl two years earlier, although that time they had to struggle with a rather early stage time and, consequently, a pretty low attendance. Not this year, as KOLDBRANN made the best out of the assigned half hour of stage time in the nicely full Party Tent, delivering the expected aural devastation. With their merciless sound they belonged to the most extreme bands of the day along with URGEHAL. Despite its brutality, KOLDBRANN's sound also contains a big portion of rock'n'roll, which makes their material sound close to CARPATHIAN FOREST or latter-day SATYRICON. The band has got two albums, “Moribund” and “Nekrotisk Inqvisition”, and a few bits and pieces (meaning Eps and splits) under their belt, which may not sound like much, but was perfectly enough to groove their way into the hearts of the audience. Beer tent music of a different kind!


Sabaton

19.20 (PS) SABATON
SABATON are a damn ambitious band. By now, the Swedes release their albums on a yearly basis, making sure there is no way around them. It is with this kind of drive that they have been able to work their way up quite a few festivals' bills, and also at SUMMER BREEZE they are slowly but surely reaching prime time. Those who saw their show know that this is not quite unjustified. Vocalist Joakim may not be one of the most gifted singers on earth, but he's surely among the most talented entertainers. With their catchy anthems, which sometimes draw influences from Primal Fear, sometimes from Hammerfall, and often from Manowar, SABATON were able to electrify the audience. Despite the omnipresent war theme, all of their songs are a bit tongue-in-cheek, which is made especially clear on “Metal Machine”, a lyrical salute to their role models, from AC/DC to Judas Priest. Visually, vocalist Joakim obviously fell for the solar-cell suit Hammerfall's Oskar Dronjak liked to wear a few years ago. The inspiration for his checker plate harness was definitely Dronjak's ecologically-correct garment. The songs from their albums – especially the ones from their latest offering “The Art Of War” - really made a huge impact. Even when the band had already left the stage after the closing medley of “Metal Machine” and “Metal Crüe” (another homage to our favorite music, by the way), the audience kept chanting “SABATON” for minutes. Did somebody just deliver proof they are destined for even bigger things?


Urgehal

20.00 (PT) URGEHAL
URGEHAL are definitely a “love 'em or hate 'em” kind of band. On this day, the audience was at their feet, otherwise it would be impossible to explain why the tent was full of grimly looking black metal fanatics. But it was exactly this circumstance which made the gig a very special experience. From the very first grunt, the chemistry between band and audience was perfect. No matter what pinhead/vocalist Trondr Nefas started, it was wildly celebrated by the fans. You can think what you want of these Norwegians, but today theirs was a clear victory and they left no doubt as to who deserved the black metal crown of thorns at this edition of SUMMER BREEZE. Mean and powerful, the songs came crashing through the P.A. creating a truly nightmarish atmosphere. The members of URGEHAL will probably hold equally euphoric memories of this gig as the audience in the chock-full tent. A grandiose revelation for every fan of Norwegian black metal.


Life of Agony

20.15 (MS) LIFE OF AGONY
Question: What does a hippy do on a metal festival? Answer: He and his band deliver one of the greatest shows of the whole festival! We're talking about LIFE OF AGONY frontman Keith Caputo, who actually came across like a bit of a flower child with his linen shirt, his oversized sunglasses, his long hair and his “Peace, love, universe!” stage raps. The New Yorkers played an absolutely convincing gig (something that many would probably have doubted after a 20-year career), which began with the classic “River Runs Red” right away. The classics – namely songs from their first album – defined the set anyway. Center point of the show was the small guy with the big voice. Caputo put a lot of soul into the songs and really flourished with the material. His live takes on the songs, which mostly varied from the recorded versions, really went under people's skins. You could actually tell his lyrics still mean as much to him as they did back in the day. And obviously hits like “Weeds” or “Other Side Of The River” couldn't be absent from the set. Bassist Alan Robert and guitarist Joey Z. were jumping around the stage like bouncy balls, while drummer Sal Abruscato laid the rhythmic foundation, poised and clearly having fun. Polite as he is, Caputo thanked the fans, the organizers, the crew, the heavens and the universe, sticking up for love. The audience was more than willing to be electrified by the band. There was a lot of jumping, running in circles and cheering. Unfortunately the band finished this great show before the end of their official stage time, as there would easily have been enough time for one more hit, like “Pretend” or “Tangerine”!


Cynic

21.00 (PT) CYNIC
Progressive death metal with ethereal parts and a big dose of jazz. For some, the definition alone may sound unenjoyable, for connoisseurs it is the apex of enjoyment. In insiders' circles 1993's “Focus” album enjoys absolute cult status, and many of those in attendance must have been happy that, after a very long absence, the band came back in 2007 and even released a new album last year, of which the first three songs opened tonight's show. Chances to see this outstanding band from Florida are few and far between, which explains some extremely expectant faces in the crowd. The band expressed their exotic character through their appearance and stage plot, as the drums were set-up at stage left, diagonally facing the band and the audience, instead of using the provided drumriser. The guitarists also played headless guitars, which are usually frowned upon in the metal scene, and completely avoided the standard poses used by most of their colleagues. While lanky guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal didn't really come across as a star with his short hair and humble character, the fans would probably have liked to carry him on their shoulders and the band to stay a lot longer than their assigned 40 minutes of stage time. Despite the complexity of the material, the band effortlessly created a near-magical atmosphere in the tent, with people clapping and cheerfully interacting with them, while others just stood watching in awe.


Amorphis

21.35 (PS) AMORPHIS
Finland's AMORPHIS are and always will be guarantee for an amazing live atmosphere, especially since the inclusion of singer Tomi Joutsen, who has proven to be a great asset for the band. Those who have witnessed one of their live performances in recent years will surely agree that the frontman has brought a lot of energy and presence to the fold. Also thanks to him in no small part, a few old classics have found their way onto the setlist again, as on this beautiful summer evening at SUMMER BREEZE. AMORPHIS were in great form and presented a collection of hits that didn't leave much to be desired, although the main focus of the set undoubtedly lay on the last three albums, as well as “Tales From A Thousand Lakes”. There were no weak points at all. Surprisingly though, one of the most important songs in their career, “Black Winter Day”, was missing from the set, but the band probably wanted to break away from the standard and avoid looking predictable. The band seemed to be in high spirits, as especially Tomi sweeped the stage like a dervish, his long dreadlocks turning into a dangerous propeller during the instrumental parts. But the rest of the band were visibly enjoying the gig as well. The Finns seemed like a fountain of youth with their precise, energetic and passionate performance. Both old and new songs were delivered with the utmost precision, and one had to really be familiar with the band's material to tell their different creative periods apart. The atmosphere was visually enhanced by an accomplished light show which perfectly suited each song on offer. Through the display of their bundled strengths the band obviously didn't have a hard time captivating the huge crowd gathered in front of the stage, and while the songs emanated a certain melancholy, the musicians' – as well as the fans' – faces were alight with uphoria. The celebrated performance ended with the nostalgic “Magic And Mayhem”.


Vreid

22.05 (PT) VREID
After the playful complexity of CYNIC, Norway's VREID delivered a stark contrast, and during the changeover the audience changed accordingly. The band, born of the ashes of WINDIR, brought grim black metal sounds back into the tent, but instead of wearing the standard black-and-white corpse paint, the quartet opted for a kind of uniform, which was obviously black. The sidedrops on stage, sporting a black and red mix of their current album design with the Norwegian flag, made for additional atmosphere, and when a siren began to sound signalling the beginning of the show, the band had the crowd's undivided attention. Lyrics alternated between English and Norwegian, making things even more interesting. From the opener “Jarnbyrd” the band had a tight grip on the audience, which lasted to the very end of the set. Their dark and surprisingly groovy songs and their impressive stage presence made this into a very successful show, which finished with “Pitch Black”, from the almost equally titled album.


Amon Amarth

22.40 (MS) AMON AMARTH
What had already been presaged by the numerous AMON AMARTH shirts at the festival site was confirmed this evening. The area in front of the stage was packed just as tightly as the flying Jägermeister Bar and every other little place providing a full view of the stage. It was the call of AMON AMARTH. And to make it clear right away, the vikings undoubtedly broke all existing attendance records, both in numbers and reactions, despite the fact they didn't use their viking longboat stage set or any other superfluous props. The huge stage with its many levels, however, provided them with various ways to present themselves. Any additional fuss would have been unnecessary anyway, as again the Swedes ruled thanks to their mere stage presence. AMON AMARTH sent one classic after another crashing through the P.A. this memorable evening. No matter which songs the Norsemen led by front giant Johan Hegg played, the crowd reactions were just extatic. From the thunderous opener “Twilight Of The Thunder God” to the menacing “Guardians Of Asgaard” to the crushing “Fate Of Norns”, the band demanded the audience to give their all. It almost seemed like their was a special relationship between festival and band, as they gave everything, regrouping on stage again and again and enjoying the energy and near-magic that was in the air. The amazing light and pyro show provided the songs with an extra impact. Surrounded by cascades of fire, the guitar players joined together again and again to bang their heads in synchronicity. The show stopped after the grandiose “Pursuit Of Vikings”, but it was far from over, although some completely exhausted fans might have been grateful if it had been. After a short intro frontman Johan Hegg mobilized the last reserves, pushing the audience to its ultimate limit. After “Cry Of The Blackbirds”, which, due to technical problems, was played without bassist Ted Lundström for the most part, the unavoidable hit “Death In Fire” followed in the light of the fire. AMON AMARTH left behind a completely burnt-out yet euphoric audience, once more cementing their already unrivaled status.


The Sorrow

23.05 (PT) THE SORROW
Austria's THE SORROW were certainly one of the hottest bands in the tent this evening – at least judging by the crowd reactions and the temperature. In the course of their set they almost turned the tent into a sauna with energy-draining activities like several walls of death. The band might only have two albums under their belt, but they have toured a lot and delivered an accomplished performance. The songs from both albums were evenly spread across the set and were received with open arms and ears by the audience. The catchier tracks provided many oportunities to sing along and bang fists. The band itself had lots of fun and visibly enjoyed the interaction with their fans. In a live situation, THE SORROW have turned into a force to be reckoned with. The hit “Death From A lovers Hand” was the crowning finale of a more than convincing show.


Haggard

00.00 (PS) HAGGARD
The medieval metal orchestra (sounds weird, but it's a pretty accurate description!) should originally have started exactly at midnight, but things not always turn out the way you expect them to... As usual, it was quite difficult to accommodate the multitudinous ensemble on stage despite the extended changeover time, which resulted in a – by now – almost traditional delay. When the band had finally found their place on stage, an intro consisting of a dramatic narration was played, until finally the show started with “Tales Of Irithia”. It was actually amazing how the collective managed to fit all their instruments, musicians and singers on the “small” Pain Stage. The (approximately) 10-piece orchestra was sat in the middle of the stage in front of music stands lit by candles, with the drum set left of them and the timpani and percussion on the right. It was a bit of a novelty to see the two female opera singers not dressed in medieval fashion as usual but in plain black, fitting the occasion. The band itself is already not everyone's cup of tea, but the ladies' vocal performance, which sounded extremely pitchy at times, was actually a bit too much. Their flexible dance numbers, however, were followed by the audience as if hypnotized. Singer Asis Nasseri led the way through the set in his own special way, playing additional guitar and interspersing some growls during the heavier parts. For the numerous fans in attendance, who watched the performance in glee, it was probably the climax of the festival season.


Firewind

00.10 (PT) FIREWIND
Fans of melodic guitar shredding were in the 7th heaven with Greece's FIREWIND, as they delivered an outstanding power metal performance. One of the guitarists regularly switched between the guitar and the keyboard, proving his proficiency on both instruments alike. With their Mediterranean charme and the poses typical for power metal the band created some grat vibes. The band lived up to their name with the ventilators that made a lot of (Fire-)Wind on stage. Also interesting to see were some cross-shaped cymbals on the drumkit. Frontman Apollo Papathanasio sang in the highest-pitched power metal regions but managed to hit every note perfectly. One of the highlights of the show in terms of atmosphere was surely the cover of “Maniac”. Although the band might have seemed quite exotic within the tent stage billing, FIREWIND delivered a convincing show.


Protest the Hero

01.15 (PT) PROTEST THE HERO
PROTEST THE HERO were certainly one of the most exceptional bands of the whole festival. The band combines progressive metal with super complex chaoscore and a little taste of punk attitude. Those unfamiliar with the band are often overwhelmed with its music, because each part seldom lasts longer than a few seconds – words like “hyperactive” and “hysterical” spring to mind.At first listen, the partly quite high-pitched vocals also come as a bit of a surprise. However, many of the attendees seemed to know exactly what they were in for. The guitarists' fingers frantically racing over the fretboards were often difficult to follow. After the intricate, almost confusing riffs there was always room for catchy and highly recognizable melodies to make up fo it. Visually, besides the bassist playing in flip-flops, the band members' colorful T-shirts looked quite interesting. Vocalist Rody Walker even pointed it out himself: “We are the most colorful band of the festival”, and this was only one of many funny stage raps. While his drummer was readjusting his kit, he used the time to point out that the band is from Canada and NOT from the States, and one song was introduced with “This next song is about Satan! ... No, it's not!” He also learned the German word “Ficken” [fuck], which he immediately adapted in the phrase “Ficken you!” This, and of course the band's breathtaking musical performance, made PROTEST THE HERO a true highlight.


Raunchy

02.20 (PT) RAUNCHY
The proceedings on Friday started drawing to a close with RAUNCHY, the penultimate band on stage and a real highlight. Agile, super tight and blessed with highly melodic, modern metal songs to bow down to, RAUNCHY lit up the night. The Danes started with “Rememberance” from the 2006 album “Death Pop Romance”, and their catchy sound could hardly be better described than with that album title. They set themselves apart from the modern metal / metalcore pablum by refusing to take part in the ridiculous heavier/faster/meaner contest, having the balls to weave some great melodies into their songs, which were often even played on the keyboards. Did it affect their impact? By no means. “Summer Of Overload” and especially the cover of “Somebody's Watching Me”, which was originally recorded by Michael Jackson and Rockwell, make it clear: These guys think out of the box and don't feel they have anything to prove. No compromise, just their own thing. The audience showed their gratitude with calls for an encore that lasted for minutes. Massive show!


Elvenking

03.20 (PT) ELVENKING
The sound check gave it away already: It was fiddle time! Italy's ELVENKING obviously like it extremely melodic, unfortunately crossing the line between art and kitsch (in the wrong direction) a bit too often with their sticky-sweet sound. Happy little songs with cutely trilling twin guitars, an omnipresent violin and the semi-in-tune vocals of singer Damna, whose moves and gestures looked like they were inspires by the recently deceased King of Pop, made for a great atmosphere in the audience. A part of it obviously found the band quite amusing, the other part apparently thought it was actually good. Yet the communication with the crowd couldn't really be described as a dialogue, because the repeated calls for a wall of death from one part of the crowd were completely ignored by the band. After all, there was also a little bit of message to be heard: The song “Infection” deals with suicide. Nice to be able to wrap such a delicate subject in such ludicrous music. Around four o'clock in the morning the King of Elves finally packed up and left, dismissing the smiling audience after a boring solo finale of Manowar proportions.


Saturday, 2009/08/15

Benighted

11.00 (MS) BENIGHTED
While the last couple of days the awakening had been delicate, considerate, almost whispered by Second Relation and Unsun respectively, BENIGHTED were the musical equivalent of a bucket of ice-cold water in the face. Just death metal with a touch of grindcore, where the protagonists actually didn't come across as grim as the music may have suggested. The drummer battered a bright yellow kit, two of the band members went on stage barefoot and bassist Eric Lombard even appeared in a pink T-shirt, small, pale jeans shorts with colorful patches and a big tattoo depicting Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh's depressive donkey friend!) on his right calf. Strictly judging by appearance, no one would probably have suspected a death metal background! After the intro, “Collapse” started fulminantly, until the funny basist's lowest string broke and he didn't have a spare string or bass ready. The incredibly proficient drummer, behind whom a cluster of musicians and stage techs were watching in awe, bridged the time it took his bassist to change tuning with a grooving drum pattern. This had the amusing effect of going from a death metal show into an elevator playing muzak, to get out on a different floor hosting another death metal concert. Despite it being criminally early, a considerable crowd was there to be woken with the BENIGHTED maul. The band focused on the material of their “Icon” album and definitely gave enough reasons to be invited again.


Black Sun Aeon

11.35 (PS) BLACK SUN AEON
What was suprising at first, considering the early hour, was the pretty big crowd in attendance. Although only a side project of Tuomas Saukkonen from Before The Dawn, it looked like a lot of people like the atmospheric tracks of their debut album “Darkness Walks Beside Me”. Granted, the dark atmosphere of the songs screams for other climatic conditions than the hot midday sun, but other than that, there was nothing to complain about. Saukkonen directed his two guitar players through the six songs from behind his kit, occasionally singing the more brutal parts, but largely leaving the vocals to the guitar fraction. Mikko Heikkilä was in charge of the clear vocals while his colleague Mynni Luukkainen delivered the growls. Stylistically the band is hard to pinpoint, but there was definitely some melancholy, dark atmospheres and a certain groove to the songs. What seemed odd, but didn't affect the performance in a negative way, was the complete absence of song announcements.


The Storm

12.10 (MS) THE STORM
The following band, Denmark's THE STORM, is not very well-known around here yet, but that is about to change soon. Their vocalist Pernille sang a duet with Michael Poulsen on the last VOLBEAT album “Guitar Gangsters And Cadillac Blood”. Musically THE STORM are quite different from their fellow countrymen though, as they play a fine, sentimental, yet sometimes pretty heavy gothic rock with a lot of melody, mainly in a slow tempo and slightly reminiscent of older The Gathering. Great music, great vocals, great dark/romantic atmosphere. For many festivalgoers this was their first contact with THE STORM, but they fell under the band's spell thanks to their outstanding performance and captivating sounds. And when VOLBEAT vocalist Michael finally came on stage to sing the last song with Pernille, there were no holds barred. THE STORM had taken Dinkelsbühl by storm, because not many bands manage to give you the goosebumps with such hot temperatures and under a scorching sun.


Before the Dawn

12.45 (PS) BEFORE THE DAWN
Many think of BEFORE THE DAWN as the next Sentenced. The Finns might still be far from that kind of status, but their dark/melancholic music between melodic death metal and gothic metal isn't far behind that of the sadly disbanded genre pioneers. With their straight-ahead, melodic and catchy songs, which ar reminiscent of AMORPHIS, DARK TRANQUILLITY and KATATONIA here and there, BEFORE THE DAWN touched a string with the big audience, as the atmosphere rose throughout the set. The trade vocals between bassist Lars Eikind's epic clean vocals and guitarist/singer Tuomas Saukkonen's massive growls were brilliant. The powerful yet melodic riffs and the fabulous hooklines had the desired effect and were celebrated unrestrictedly. The euphorically acclaimed performance ended with the excellent “Deadsong”.


Grave

13.20 (MS) GRAVE
In the early afternoon a true cult band of Swedish old-school death metal, GRAVE, entered the stage. They didn't disappoint the fans, delivering an excellent best-of set. Regardless of the consequences, the band plowed its way through the songs. Their downtuned riffs, which helped define the sound of death metal, hit right in the stomach and clearly had the desired effect in motivating the audience. The band feels at home with high-speed riffs as well as merciless grooves. The songs were mostly from their early albums. Only towards the end of the set the band played their über-hit “Soulless”, which fans had been demanding again and again in between songs. By the way, the bassist position in GRAVE is currently held by Fredrik Isaksson (ex-Therion). In November the band will go on tour with KRISIUN and NILE, and they shouldn't disappoint judging by their performance today!


Krypteria

14.05 (PS) KRYPTERIA
Apparently the singer in KRYPTERIA lived out a childhood fantasy on stage. It is a known fact that girls like to play with dolls and change their clothes and are generally more interested in extravagant wardrobe than their masculine counterparts. Miss Ji-In Cho came on stage in a lavish white wedding gown, which she got rid off during the first song with a lascivious strip dance. Underneath she was wearing a black leather outfit though, which disappointed the male crowd. Her candy coated vocals fit the band's rocking sound perfectly, lending it a certain pop appeal. The songs were made especially convincing by their gripping character and their catchiness. Before you noticed, the songs had stuck in your brain for good. The enthusiastic band contributed their part, making KRYPTERIA's appearance at SUMMER BREEZE another success.


Born from Pain

14.50 (MS) BORN FROM PAIN
The Netherlands' BORN FROM PAIN were definitely among the winners of this Saturday afrternoon. Led by their affable frontman Rob, the band delivered full power from the get-go, and he started demanding audience participation pretty early in their set. Their brutal metalcore/hardcore sound was perfectly suited for those willing to move among the already quite big audience. And so it came that the crowd demanded a wall of death pretty soon, which the band obviously didn't oppose. Rob, who impressed with perfect German, pointed out that, if it was going to be done, it had to be done right, which resulted in the biggest wall of death of the afternoon. Now there was no stopping the crowd and a massive circle pit ensued, which lasted surprisingly long. Rob kept asking for more crowdsurfers to keep the security busy, and the audience was happy to oblige. The bouncers eventually got seriously nervous when Rob decided to climb down into the audience to sing “The New Hate” together with his fans. The show was at boiling point. The choice of songs, with a focus on the more recent material, was very wise too. Besides all the fun, which people were clearly having, Rob also touched upon some serious problems of our society. To sum it up, the gig had all the ingredients of a great hardcore show.


Unlight

15.00 (PT) UNLIGHT
As openers of the tent stage UNLIGHT naturally had a difficult task at hand. While there was bright sunshine outside, only a few festivalgoers had found their way into the already overheated tent, and the fact that UNLIGHT's uncompromising black metal only appeals to a select audience made things even harder. However, it didn't take long until the first banging heads could be deen in the audience. Visibly thrilled and motivated by the constant stream of people into the tent, the band from Freiburg stepped things up a notch, climaxing in the song “Carnal Baptism”. The audience properly honored the band's performance now. Although known for their rather modest stage acting, the band flourished to unimagined energy levels. UNLIGHT led the way through the rest of the set in a raw, fast and grim fashion. Left in the end was a crowd of sweaty yet satisfied fans, who bid a fitting farewell to the band.


Epica

15.40 (PS) EPICA
EPICA were one of the surprises of the day. Led by frontwoman Simone Simons, whose bright smile could rival even the sun, EPICA delivered a top-notch show, starting – almost as a tradition – with “Obsessive Devotion”. The Dutchmen's (and woman's) enthusiasm seemed contagious as the area facing the Pain Stage quickly filled up in the early afternoon. Technically, the band was absolutely precise, and vocalist Simone was in great form, delivering a wonderful contrast to growler Mark Jansen. As usual, the concentration of hits in their set was pretty high, and the band's enthusiasm transferred to the audience more and more. The result was people starting to chant “EPICA!” only after a few songs – with free goosebumps on top! When the closing “Consign To Oblivion” started, the only possible conclusion was that this band can effortlessly hold its own on a big festival like this.


Narziss

16.00 (PT) NARZISS
Metalcore wasn't exactly omnipresent at this edition of SUMMER BREEZE, much less German-sung metalcore. Many of those who had made BORN FROM PAIN's show such a big celebration earlier on probably wandered into the tent to bestow a similar reception on NARZISS. The intro started a little earlier than 4 PM, with the band probably just as impatient as the masses facing the stage. The band's first words and sounds immediately provoked a reaction in the audience despite the oppressive heat, resulting in a circle pit by song number three – which also generated a cloud of dust above the crowd; after four days of extreme strain there was hardly any grass left on the ground. The singer appeared in a stylish, light blue Reinhard Kleist shirt, while his colleagues were wearing the more genre-typical black clothes. Some low road cases had been places between the monitors and the edge of the stage, which provided the band members with the possibility to pose on an elevated surface. Singer Alexander Bartsch dedicated the song “Verblasst” to all “girls and hippies” out there. The shouter was also busy providing the sweaty fans in the front rows with bottles of water, not forgetting his band mates either; first he spat water on his bassist's nape, then on his croth, as he knelt behind him. Pretty hot show, this!


Brainstorm

16.30 (MS) BRAINSTORM
Saturday, 4:30 PM, time for power metal! The last time the friendly guys from BRAINSTORM last played the festival, it was still being carried out in Abtsgmünd, and thus they were highly motivated from the beginning. As a warm welcome greeting, their hometown fans unfolded a giant flag of the city of Gerstetten, and it felt like being in a football stadium. Also otherwise someone had obviously worked on an appropriate setting, with an impressive backdrop, matching sidedrops and even a cover for the drumriser. The band also made a monolithic impression, not just musically, but also visually, ass all the band members were wearing identic shirts with their last name and position written on the back. Once more, Andy B. Franck played the perfect host – the guy would be able to sell mince beef to a vegetarian – but the audience didn't make it exactly hard for him to control the situation either, willingly participating in all the clapping and singalong exercises. The view from the stage showed a clear line of separation in the crowd, namely the shadow border. The shade provided by the stage was full of people (no wonder, with shade AND power metal to be had!), while in the sun there was a lot of free room. Classic riffs with bite, superb bass work and a tight drummer, the BRAINSTORM machine purring along, delivering one hit after another to the willing crowd. “Shiva's tears” had a bit of an oriental touch and the quiet “End In Sorrow”, carried by Toni Ievas' earthy bass, had a great reception.


Waylander

17.00 (PT) WAYLANDER
Don't let WAYLANDER's looks confuse you: Although they might look a bit like William Wallace in their blue warpaint, they actually hail from Ireland. Musically, the risk of confusion is a smaller one, because their folk elements do indeed sound a bit reminiscent of their fellow countrymen Mel Mordha, although less dramatic. WAYLANDER enrich their sound with traditional folk instruments and manage to get some original facets out of the rather oversaturated folk/pagan metal boom. Nothing much can go wrong with a concept like that nowadays anyway. The euphoric crowd reactions prove that this band is not just a faceless clone. Constantly – and vehemently – songs are demanded, and all lyrics get the perfect singalong treatment. All in all, a successful show by an interesting band.


Evergreen Terrace

17.25 (PS) EVERGREEN TERRACE
EVERGREEN TERRACE may have borrowed their name from the Simpsons, but this is far from being a comedy band. Theirs is an interesting mix of modern hardcore with melodic elements. Thanks to the melodic vocals of guitarist Craig Chaney their songs acquire a very special vibe. Shouter Andrew Carey, on the other hand, mostly just screams into the mic quite nastily. The band was visibly moved by the crowd approval as Carey paraphrased the Type O Negative / Neil Young song “Summer Breeze makes me feel fine!” Maybe because they were having so much fun, they rewarded the audience with a brand new song from their upcoming album. The title of the track is “Enemy Sex”, and it blended seamlessly with the material from the hit album “Wolfbiker”. During the show, an oversized beach ball was constantly being tossed around above the audience, which didn't seem exactly typical for a metal show. The band really went for it throughout their whole set, with all band members jumping around on stage like crazy. Frontman Carey couldn't resist the temptation to seek closer contact with the audience, climbing over the barrier to keep shouting from among his fans. Besides their original material, the band also played the Tears For Fears cover “Mad World”. An absolutely gripping show and a welcome variation on the festival bill.


Excrementroy Grindfuckers

18.00 (PT) EXCREMENTORY GRINDFUCKERS
EGF rocked the house! The absolutely unique comedy grinders had invited to the comfy tent, and legions of fans followed the call. No wonder, as the grindcore-fun-machine is a guarantee for a good time packed into short, most entertaining noise orgies. For those who find J.B.O. too tame, the GRINDFUCKERS are just perfect. Their hilarious lyrics, in which they make fun of pretty much everybody, their fast, snottily delivered songs and their hyperactive appearance made them go over great with the fans, no matter if the song at hand was a completely butchered cover version or a creation of their own. The tent crowd went mad, and the ones to deal with it were the bouncers, who had to fish out one crowdsurfer after another. Please note: A little grind is fine! And original member Him showed that it even works with a trumpet as he played the intro melody to the cover of Europe's “The Final Countdown” - “The Final Grinddown” - on this rather atypical instrument. Once again, the EXCREMENTORY GRINDFUCKERS seemed pretty well rehearsed yet raw at the same time, so boredom never reared its ugly head. And can you name one band that gets awarded an inflatable paddling pool during one of their shows?


Moonspell

18.15 (MS) MOONSPELL
Almost at the same time as in 2006, but on Saturday instead of Thursday, MOONSPELL got up on the Main Stage. The Portuguese had an easy time getting the audience on their side with their inimitable dark anthems. For 20 years now and like no other band around, they manage to create an almost tangible darkness through their emotional songs. It was this special atmosphere of the show, which was highly professional as usual, but very passionate at the same time, that provided this goosebump-inducing feeling again. MOONSPELL were extremely tight and well-rehearsed, effortlessly navigating between aggressive and dramatic stage acting. Frontman Fernando Ribeiro was obviously the eye-catcher during the whole show as he emphasized every sillable with his facial expressions and his almost theatrical gestures. Almost all of the songs, such as “Opium”, “Scorpion Flower”, “Vampiria”, “Alma Mater” and the final “Full Moon Madness”, had the crowd singing along loudly. At the end of the aforementioned show closer, Ribeiro took a pair of drumsticks, helping out drummer Mike Gaspar on the cymbals.


Hate

19.00 (PT) HATE
With Poland's HATE you get the impression you are watching a Behemoth twin band. Why? Firstly, the Poles play a mix of death and black metal, secondly, they have a weakness for corpse paint, and thirdly, they like to wear long, dark kilts, exactly the same as Behemoth's Nergal. It may all be a coincidence, but all these semblances did suggest that the epigone was not quite as good as the original, which unfortunately was the case with HATE most of the time. Their songs were mainly played in mid-tempo, only seldom they sped up a bit to hint at what they could actually be capable of. They hardly achieved the impressive tightness of their fellow countrymen either. What was left in the end was an OK gig without big surprises and the feeling that the band could improve a lot with a little more self-confidence.


Legion of the damned

19.20 (PS) LEGION OF THE DAMNED
This band is a true phenomenon! For years the Dutchmen worked their arses off under the name Occult, getting little in return – especially after the departure of their singer Rachel. In 2004 the band reformed under their new monicker, and since then, everything is working out great for LEGION OF THE DAMNED. Good album sales figures, numerous festival appearances, many tours – the whole shebang. Their rise in poularity has been enormous, and, to be honest, the legion goddamn deserved it. Their catchy, straight-ahead thrash with a latent death metal influence, which never denies its proximity to early Slayer, was exactly what the crowd of fans before the stage was dying for. Right from the start, many heads started to rotate and the first few circle pits ensued. Singer Maurice, who bears a certain resemblance to The Addams Fanily's Cousin Itt, didn't have to ask long to get a gigantic circle pit going. Once more, the oranje thrashers were in top form, precise, potent, powerful and always straight to the point. The razor sharp riffs and Maurice's charismatic vocals deserve a special mention, while stage acting wise the gentlemen were mainly content staying on their spots and banging their heads. But hey, the same has worked for Slayer for years!


Ghost Brigade

20.00 (PT) GHOST BRIGADE
Before their new album, which is being released these days, surprisingly made it to position #1 in Metal Hammer, hardly anyone had ever heard of this Finnish band. Their debut album had been more of an insider's tip, and if you met the band members off stage, you probably wouldn't have guessed they were actually musicians – and what passion they play with! Almost timidly, they snuck on the unadorned stage (no backdrop etc.) wearing their everyday clothes, picked up their instruments and got started. Singer Manne's appearance is somewhere in between sullen and shy, but when he used the mic, the short guy actually achieved big things. His vocals were increasingly melodic on the new songs, intensely aggressive during the shouted bits. This band grips you in no time and takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride. Quiet, almost acoustic parts met overwhelmingly powerful walls of guitars, while the band members banged their heads in abandon. The drummer sat absent-minded behind his kit, visibly having fun playing the songs. Despite competing with the huge Volbeat on the Main Stage, the tent filled up more and more, and the audience was shocked when the band members left the stage five minutes ahead of schedule. However, the six Finns returned swiftly to celebrate the climaxing “Lost In A Loop”. The band managed what other, bigger bands couldn't achieve this year; their performance transmitted powerful feelings – between melancholy and rage – to the elctrified audience. This was definitely one of the festival's very big surprises.


Volbeat

20.15 (MS) VOLBEAT
VOLBEAT is one of those bands that has grown through and with the festival. Each one of their appearances so far has also inaugurated a new period in their career. Something would have to be seriously wrong if, after this show, they didn't climb another step up the career ladder. To cut straight to the point: Tonight VOLBEAT rocked everything to the ground. Before they had even picked up their instruments, the Danes were greated with a wave of loud “VOLBEAT!” chants. Then they went straight for it, and frontman Poulsen proved once more he's the perfect entertainer. The boys played with great enthusiasm, showing they have the interaction with the crowd down to a T, which resulted in the bouncers being almost overwhelmed by the numbers of bodies surfing towards them. One of the peaks and visual highlight of the show was the appearance of Pernille Rosendahl around the middle of the set. Dressed in a semitransparent dress and 10cm high-heels, she swept across the stage, belting out the grandiose “Mary Ann's Place” together with Poulsen. VOLBEAT know how to get the audience to give it all, with several circle pits going on at the same time. The band also gave a little appetizer for their new album in the form of a brand new track. No matter if the song at hand was from one of their previous albums or a new one, the show was just full of superlatives and should enter the annals of the festival. The Slayer riff at the end was also a cool gimmick. Taking the sheer quantity of crowdsurfers as a standard, this show should stay unsurpassed for eternity. Together with Amon Amarth, VOLBEAT were the undisputed kings of the festival!


Evocation

21.00 (PT) EVOCATION
It's not easy to write a report about a whole EVOCATION gig if one song stays in your head and prevents you from concentrating even hous after the show. Holy shit, “Feed The Fire” really is a live killer! But obviously this should be about more than those four minutes. The other songs from the band's two albums also blew the people against the tent walls. Tight, enthusiastic and in high spirits, the boys didn't take no prisoners. Despite the huge gap in the band biography, they have managed to secure their place between Dismember and Entombed on European stages in a very short time, a place that should have belonged to them 15 years ago. Luckily, so far they have avoided to adapt their Stockholm sound to supposed market requirements or “enrich” it with clean vocals or other nonsense. In the tent, EVOCATION proved once more that they can be successful without such compromises. Keep the flames burning, guys – FEED THE FIRE!


Voivod

21.35 (PS) VOIVOD
No one could really see this coming, VOIVOD at SUMMER BREEZE. Firstly, because the Canadians have never really been among the hardest touring bands, and secondly, because the original – and virtually irreplaceable – guitarist Denis “Piggy” D'Amour died of colon cancer in 2005. Many were surprised at first about the band being booked and about their position in the line-up and the related stage time, yet one should not forget that SUMMER BREEZE is a festival made by fans for fans. And fans VOIVOD obviously still have quite a few, because the area facing the Pain Stage was totally crowded by the time the band went on stage. The following hour just flew by. The beginning with “Voivod” was pretty much preprogrammed, but when the band started playing “Tribal Convictions” four songs into the set, many of the attendees probably felt like trapped in a time warp. This song made the class and uniqueness of this band and its material clear. New guitarist Daniel Mongrain did a great job, it was an unexpected gift to see Blacky playing the bass again, and Snake is a man of stature not only due to his height. They were visibly enjoying the show and you couldn't help but feeling torn between wanting an album of entirely new material or not. In its 27 years of history the band has never repeated itself and always surprised. For someone unfamiliar with the band's material, this crazy ride through genres like industrial, thrash, punk, progressive and electronica might have seemed confusing, but most of those watching the show probably dug out their old VOIVOD LPs first thing back home!


Bury me deep

22.05 (PT) BURY ME DEEP
The following band has only existed for a few months under the BURY ME DEEP monicker, but Leshi Love and his Darkbrothers have been playing as THE FUGE for over ten years already, although the band never really played a lot of shows. Hopefully the renaming will help change this, too! Michelle Darkness, also frontman of End Of Green, is the eye-catcher of this Swabian band. Stylistically, BURY ME DEEP fit in the same genre – the ingredients are basically similar, although the proportion of dark melancholy versus driving gothic rock is different from Michelle's main band. BURY ME DEEP are quieter and more reflective, their songs seem less self-destructive than End Of Green's, and they leave room for a little touch of pop here and there. However, Leshi, Michelle & Co. know how to present their mix of rocking vibes and subtle sadness on stage with sleepwalking confidence, taking the listeners from one emotional extreme to the other. From the beautiful ballad “The Angel's Handshake”, passing through driving rock songs such as “Like Little Souls” and “Cobalt blue Light”, to the hit “Burn My Soul”, the title of which delivers a stark contrast to the song's positive feeling, BURY ME DEEP left nothing to be desired. Except for a full tour, but that can still happen in the future. During the signing session there was already a lot of interest in the band, and the numerous attendees can consider themselves part of the illustrious circle of people who have had the chance to witness one of the band's rare performances.


Opeth

22.40 (MS) OPETH
OPETH were the last band of the festival on the Main Stage. And the prog gods' motto for this evening was clearly “Less is more!”, because the stage was kept largely unadorned except for a simple backdrop, which had the positive effect of channeling everyone's attention right to the musicians. OPETH may not necessarily be a festival band, but this evening – and in front of this impressive crowd – their show worked fantastically. Even the more progressive songs were gratefully taken in by the audience, despite some obvious technical problems at the beginning of the set. Still, OPETH are and always will be the measure for technical perfection. Even the partly extremely long yet entertaining announcements by Mr. Åkerfeldt didn't have a negative impact on the show, but fit the overall concept of this musical master class quite well. One of the things that we learned was that OPETH would soon return with a new album and Katatonia as their support for some shows in Germany. Visibly excited by the crowd's reactions, the band eventually reached their usual form towards the end of the set, proving they fully deserve their current status and that challenging music doesn't only work in a club setting. After nearly 80 minutes Mikael Åkerfeldt and his cohorts finished an impressive set to almost supererogatory crowd reactions, a fitting finale on the Main Stage for a weekend full of highlights.

Read a statement here.
Dagoba

23.05 (PT) DAGOBA
DAGOBA's appearance at SUMMER BREEZE 2007 was obviously well-remembered as they belonged to the positive surprises of the festival that year. Although this time they went on stage on the last day at the penultimate position, apparently many fans had saved their energy, giving the friendly Frenchmen a warm welcome as they launched into their set after an intro. But even those who were just passing by were immediately captivated by their precisely grooving modern metal with a certain industrial appeal. With their passionate performance, which included almost inhuman headbanging, and the respective crowd reactions, DAGOBA and the audience wound each other up until reaching a state of near-ecstasy. At least the 45 minutes stage time flew by, and one can only hope this wasn't the last time frontman Shawter and his crew visited Dinkelsbühl.


Deathstars

00.00 (PS) DEATHSTARS
It's hard to believe that this band was actually formed by members of much heavier bands, such as Dissection, because the guys who took the stage at midnight looked like the term “metrosexual” had been invented just for them. At least none of the band members hid their feminine side. Vocalist Whiplasher Bernadotte, for instance, had more glitter in his hair than what had been used on the whole festival site over the entire weekend, and – just like his colleagues – was wearing pale make-up with loads of blood-red lipstick. Accordingly, there were relatively many women in the audience. Besides such superficialities, the band knows how to rock the crowd, and their show was pure entertainment, with stupid amounts of rockstar poses and no boredom in sight... At the start of the set all the band members were wearing identical tight black shirts, but the massive bassist and one of the guitarists soon took theirs off, which was met with loud cheers by the audience. The band was definitely in a humorous mood, as according to Whiplasher there were some “problems with heterosexuality on stage”, and he even took part in some daft squirt gun fights. Their material – between massive Rammstein riffing and gothic rock – proved once again to be extremely direct, and the closing hour went by way too quickly. Who messed with the clock? No, it was really that late!


Secrets of the Moon

00.15 (PT) SECRETS OF THE MOON
While the DEATHSTARS played the last show of the festival on the Pain Stage, SECRETS OF THE MOON closed the festival on the Party Stage. Submerged in red light, the Osnabrück black metal institution celebrated their definition of the genre, which in 2009 is heavy, tough and complex. Three of the five songs on offer, “Sulphur Pulse”, “Queen Among Rats” and “Black Halo”, were culled from their new album, “Privilegivm”, due in September. A bold move, as the audience couldn't possibly know them. The rest of the set was part of the current, rather controversial album “Antithesis”, the stylistical continuation of which is “Privilegivm”. Faster songs, such as the ones on the excellent “Carved In Stigmata Wounds” album, weren't played at all – unfortunately including the sensational “To The Ultimate Embers And Ash”. Instead, SECRETS OF THE MOON attempted an extreme tour de force which – at this point of the festival – definitely took some major balls. Although lacking a bit of variation, the gig's dramaturgical staging was perfect. And that, again, was pretty impressive.


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